As N'Keal Harry heads home, Patriots need wideouts to start answering bell

Tom E. Curran
NBC Sports Boston

NASHVILLE - N'Keal Harry has left the region.

The Patriots first-round rookie wideout was on a plane back to Boston on Thursday night, according to WEEI's Ryan Hannable.

The most likely scenario is that Harry is headed back to New England for further treatment for the leg maladies he accrued in Detroit last week.

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Harry came up a bit gimpy during an August 6 practice with the Lions but returned to the workout after a brief time away. In last Thursday's game, he made two very nice catches but came up limping after the second one and came off the field.

He hasn't been on the field since, although he did suit up for practices here in Nashville on both Wednesday and Thursday. He left the field after stretching and was out of sight before returning to the field toward the middle of practice on Thursday.

When he returned, Harry - wearing a sleeveless t-shirt and game pants - really just wandered around while teammates scrimmaged against the Titans. He was seen playing light catch with rookie quarterback Jarrett Stidham for a moment along the sidelines but he spent most of his time quite a ways away from where he could have observed practice.

Harry was not out at practice on the Tuesday before the Patriots left. Chris Price from the Boston Globe reported Harry's injury was "very minor."

Often, the Patriots will keep an injured player along on a trip so that he can assimilate better to the team's way of doing things when it's on the road. There are walkthroughs, meetings, chances for treatment and conditioning, opportunities to compare notes with teammates - just full football immersion that can be helpful to a young player.

And that's what made Harry's aimless wandering - at least in my opinion - noteworthy. Go find a veteran receiver to stand near and ask questions of. Wave a towel for a teammate. See the adjustments being made offensively. Try to gain insight on what another NFL defense tries to do against the Patriots offense. Pick the brains of Julian Edelman and Demaryius Thomas.

I'm told Harry wasn't the only Patriot to return to New England and speculation Harry was sent home for any reason other than treatment would be baseless.  

And it could well be that Harry spent hours away from our eyesight doing all the things I suggested and was told by coaches to stay back from the field.

But if it didn't seem out of the ordinary, it wouldn't be worth mentioning.

The Patriots receivers are pockmarked by injury right now. Maurice Harris has a lower-leg injury that will be a while but Edelman and Phillip Dorsett (both down with hand injuries) and Harry might be nearing a point where it's time to get on the field and do what they can for two simple reasons:

A) the team can't keep grinding rookies Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski, second-year player Braxton Berrios, journeyman Dontrelle Inman and the wafer-thin tight end group down to a nub.

B) the 2019 NFL season begins in 24 days. Time's a wastin'.

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As N'Keal Harry heads home, Patriots need wideouts to start answering bell originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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